The sweetest things: our favourite desserts and cakes
A look back at the delicious cakes, biscuits, puddings and pies we’ve cooked – and talked about – this year
Great British Bake Off semi-finalist Chetna Makan’s unusual saffron meringue cake
Gary O’Hanlon’s triple layered chocolate fudge cake
Are there still sweets in the Roses and Quality Street tins (that aren’t the squishy soft ones that are always last to be eaten)? Well, you probably haven’t reached peak seasonal sugar overload, just yet.
So, here’s a look back at some of the most delicious cakes, biscuits, puddings and pies Irish Times food writers, and others who have contributed to our pages, have come up with to tempt us over the past 12 months.
Cakes is good, but chocolate cake is utterly good, and Orna Mulcahy beguiled us with her reminiscences on the weekly arrival of the Kylemore chess cake at her childhood family home. But we’re still struggling to comprehend chef Robin Gill’s denouncement of cake as the devil’s work (in the same Food Court piece, as part of Food Month at The Irish Times).
Cake, in all its guises, was at the core of Alison Healy’s heartfelt tribute to her mother, an accomplished baker, who only needed to refer to the 1960 edition of Maura Laverty’s Full and Plenty when she was baking something extra special
“The pages with the most splatters are the ones with the sponge cake recipes: feathery sponge, chocolate sponge, one egg sponge, hot milk sponge. It falls open on the Christmas cakes recipes and the section on fancy yeast breads and buns,” Healy confides.
Donal Skehan’s dark chocolate polenta cake with salted caramel sauce definitely falls into the special occasion territory, but our columnist also kept it simply sweet in 2016 with his quick and easy self-saucing chocolate pudding.
Chef and columnist Gary O’Hanlon saves his impressive triple layered chocolate fudge cake for when he needs to “get out of trouble at home”. But we think it deserves a more frequent airing.
Is the Viennese Whirl the most elegant of biscuits? We think so, and they’re not as difficult to make as you might think, as this recipe from an irishtimes.com extract from Will Torrent’s book, Afternoon Tea at Home shows.
Great British Bake Off semi-finalist Chetna Makan shared with us her recipe for an unusual saffron meringue cake that has Finnish origins. “The result is extraordinary and it looks beautiful as a table centrepiece,” she says. Meringue was also mastered by Vanessa Greenwood, who made rolling a roulade sound like a piece of cake in the instructions for her coffee cream meringue roulade.
Loaf cakes are always popular, and Vanessa Greenwood came up with a real winner with her blueberry and lemon loaf, which as well as being light and the opposite of dry (there’s a moratorium on the word I’m avoiding here, and not only since it came up on a list of the most hated food words of 2016).
But for my money, Greenwood’s cake of 2016 is her strawberry tart, a classic inspired by her time living in Paris, that will teach you a failsafe way to make crème pâtissière. One to save for when the summer fruits are at their best ... something to look forward to.